Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Finding the Right Job

Our oldest son has taken the leap into his first attempt at gainful employment. I say his first attempt, but that's not actually correct. He's had many unsuccessful attempts before now. Yard sales, art sales, and a dog walking business (but only small dogs and puppies, according to the flier) were, perhaps, his most profitable, and that was only due to the kindness of family and neighbors.

The Lemonade Stand was fairly successful -- as long as his younger siblings had some money.

"You cannot charge your brother $3.00 for a cup of lemonade!"

"But Mom," he responded, "He's willing to pay for it! He's the market and he's set the price."

"He's only set the price because he doesn't realize he can buy several gallons of lemonade for that price!" I felt powerful as I talked to him, kind of like a local delegate from the F.T.C.

"But he's my only customer! I'll never make money if I can't charge him more for each cup!"

"That's a marketing plan that's bound to fail." I replied, quite seriously. "You'll have to do better!"

Well, he did, and that eventually meant that I had to shut down the lemonade stand when I realized that his marketing plan was directly tied to our mailman's route, and that the poor guy was being asked to buy lemonade, at inflated prices, every day at 3:30.

Over the years he has tried to gain employment from us. That's been interesting!

"Mom, Dad, how about I do some work for you to earn money."

"You have to do your chores for free, buddy, sorry."

"No, I mean, like other work, like yardwork or cleaning the bathroom."

"Do you honestly think we'd hire you if we had money to pay someone to do our housework?"

Perhaps not the nicest reply, but quite realistic. It took several years for him to figure out that the reason we do all the work around here is because we don't have money to pay someone else to do it.

So, a couple months ago, he came running to me with a flier from our community press that said, "This paper was delivered by an adult, not a child! If you are over 10 and would like to be the one delivering this paper, please call the number below."

We made the call and set up the interview, and he was hired on the spot. I'd like to think it was his great interviewing skills. However, the fact that she came with all his paperwork already filled in, including letters to his subscribers, I have a feeling there just wasn't much competition.

So, when your 11-year-old gets a job, what does that mean for Mom? It means that every Wednesday morning, never stopped by rain, sleet nor snow, I am out driving him to various locations in our neighborhood. See, he can deliver the papers, but he can't carry all 55 of them at once. This has made for some interesting mornings, like today.

I have a cold, was tired and didn't want to get out of bed, but I did, just so he could get those wonderful papers to his readers before his father left for work. I was willing to drive him, but I wasn't willing to change out of my pajamas which were nice and warm and cozy on this cold winter morning. The pajamas are not anything special, just a flannel shirt and pants with duckies all over them.

"Akk! Mom you can't take me in that!" He responded as I was walking out the door, putting my coat on over my jammies.

"Look, all I do is sit in the car, read and slowly nurse a cup of tea. It really doesn't matter if I'm in my jammies. Nobody's going to see me."

"Hey," he said, pointing to the neighbor waving from across the street, "he just saw you... so did that car that just passed!"

"So..." I replied, not sure of the right comeback. Some of the humor of this is that neither of us is really awake when we go to deliver, and both of us are pretty grumpy.

"This is so embarrassing," he muttered as we headed out the door. I'm not sure what exactly was embarrassing: the fact that his mom wears flannel PJs with duckies on them, or that his mom was "going out in public" her pajamas.

It's been interesting to see how he interacts with the neighbors. For instance, one street over lives an elderly couple who must have had some kind of traumatic experience with a newspaper at some point in their lives. This particular paper is an optional pay paper, so anyone can receive the paper free of charge (the caveat is that you have a cute kid showing up at your door once a month to collect the "optional pay" of $2.50 plus tips -- kind of hard to say no).

The first time we were on the street, trying to figure out which houses he delivers too, the lady came out, got in her car, drove 5 houses down to where we were and yelled out the window of her car.

"We don't get that there paper at our house!!"

She then proceeded to follow him down the street to make sure he didn't accidentally deliver it to them. At the house before hers she yelled again.

"Now, just walk on past the next house! We don't get that paper!"

The next week, her husband came when we were there. I watched from the car as he told our son, "We don't get that there paper at our house!"

"I know, don't worry, I won't deliver it," he replied.

"Where's your mom?" He asked. Our son pointed to me, several houses down (not in my jammies that time), sitting in the car reading. What then ensued was a 15 minute discussion with the man about how they didn't get the paper, the depression was hard, war is terrible, and old age is not for wimps, although its better than the alternative. There's lots of stress with old age, apparently. Especially when people accidentally deliver a newspaper to you.

Collecting on that street was interesting, too. Once we were on the couple's radar (which they must have in order to know the moment we enter their street) , the husband came out and flagged me down.

"You know, ma'am, we won't be paying for that paper!"

"Geez," I thought, but wisely did not say, "You're kidding! You're not going to pay for a paper that you don't receive." I really wondered if this guy writes letters to credit card companies, cell phone companies and such just to verify that he is not paying them anything since he doesn't use their services!

Collecting from others was interesting as well. Most people do pay, and the interactions were great. There were a couple, though, that were a bit unusual. One was a very lengthy note that he got from someone just up the street from us. The note very angrily pointed out that they never asked for this paper, they didn't read the paper, and that they have no desire to get the paper and if he delivers again then they are going to press charges for trespassing. Wow! I think maybe she had a traumatic experience with a newspaper at sometime. But, take heart, the woman runs an in-home daycare, so it's good to know that she's helping to shape the hearts and minds of our next generation.

Overall, being the neighborhood paperboy has been a good thing. And, he looks really cute when he's carrying the bag around the area -- something I pointed out right before I took this picture. Apparently, 11-year-old boys don't like to be called cute, and that's why there's a sour look on his face. I guess we all learn when the oldest kid tries something new.


Old Guy said...

We don't get that there paper!

Deb said...

Really? Are you sure?

sandra mae said...

we DO get the paper-- and one month our neighborhood kid showed up wanting the $$. so we paid, but I told him we didnt really want it anymore (we were really trying to cut back on our spending for $$ reasons)... he said OK, but then kept delivering it still. I was so confused! so another month I said again-- we'll just take a break for awhile, we dont have the money. he said: that's okay. just pay when you can. I was still left feeling very confused!

but NOW this all makes so much more sense, thanks to your blog post!!-- the payment is optional. now I get it. thanks for mentioning that part in your story! now- of course- I will feel even more obligated to scrounge around for our extra change in the house to pay the kid! but that is a good thing!

MarlaQuack said...

Well, we like the paper because it usually has good news in it. So I guess we'll keep getting it.